Selling ads across downloadable media / by Nate Westheimer

I rarely use this blog to talk about my work in the online advertising world. Here's a short post which goes into a bit of detail regarding what I'm learning about the industry, what makes eMediaRep and NPB such great organizations, and how I think Blip.tv is "getting it" UPDATE: It appears that Blip pulled their post. I'll assume it's a glitch so check the link to their post later if it doesn't work now.

Since February, I've been working with NPB (now a part of NPR) and eMediaRep (a new commercial project). My title has been "Technology Strategist," and much of my work with these organizations has revolved around the question of downloadable media, from the business development side of things (we'll announce a major partnership soon which includes over 30 million monthly downloads), the operations side of things (currently I'm facilitating the second ever integration with thePlatform and Operative/DfP), and well as on the development of emerging economic models. It's on this last subject that I'll be speaking at the Integrated Media Association's conference in February.

It's from this unique perspective -- as the hired punk kid consultant within a venerable rep firm -- that I've seen that the world of "downloadable media" (which includes progressive video streaming on the web) is a new world which still has a lot of questions attached to it. Nobody can claim they "know" what they're doing more than the next (in regards to new video).

However, in some ways, addressing it from the perspective of an "old rep firm" (NPB was founded to rep public TV and radio by a guy who pioneered the cable advertising industry) I've seen that it's not so much the sales process that's changed, as it is the content and the creative we're trying to match-up and gel together has changed.

A good sales organization today operates similarly to the way a good sales organization operated ten years ago.

For me, this point was driven home as I read Blip.tv CEO Mike Hudack's latest blog post, called "Two types of sales."

In the past, I've used Blip.tv, and will continue to use them, as the example for where online content (not just video) production and advertising is headed.

Mike, Dina, and Company "get it."

In the post, Mike gives video content producers the low down on how advertising works from within their ad rep operations and partnerships, providing such insights as,

In general sponsorships are your most realistic path to making your Web show profitable.

(by "sponsorship" Mike means high-touch, non-CPM/rating based ads) and,

Sponsorships take a lot of time and effort to sell and require that the sales people have an intimate familiarity with the shows they’re selling to advertisers. Run of site [ROS] sales, though, take place across a great sea of content — much of it, frankly, mystery meat — and therefore don’t require an intimate familiarity with the particular pieces of content being sold. In fact, ROS sales require something very different. They require consistent innovation and experimentation in sales techniques, content matching techniques, advertising formats and targeting technologies.

What Mike is describing is similar to what I state above in that:

  1. An ad operations process is more about great sales operations than being a hip company that "knows" bloggers (check one off for old-school firms)
  2. Those (few) sponsorships which are less about numbers and more about brand/content match-making are about multiple, sustainable, long-term relationships with advertisers than a single contact someone has at one agency (another reason to go with an experienced firm)

And that is what has been so much fun about working with the teams at NPB and eMediaRep. They know how to do this stuff. They've been at it for 10 years, some for nearly 30. They've sold out some of the best content that's ever existed (NewsHour is still one of the best shows on the air and PBS has been polled to be the "best use of public funds," according to the American People).

Anyway, this post has meandered around a little bit. But I wanted to get you, the few select people who read my blog, an idea of what kinds of things I've been doing, and what kinds of things people are thinking about in this space.

Of course, it's also a bit of a plug for eMediaRep and NPB. So, if you're a major content brand (millions of plays/hits/downloads a month) in any online space -- not just downloadable media -- and are looking for representation, you should contact me and I'd be please to connect you with the right people at these fine companies.

Also, be sure to read the rest of Mike's great post.